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    Software name: appdown
    Software type: Microsoft Framwork

    size: 568MB

    Lanuage:Englist

    Software instructions

      "Sir, there is no Lieutenant O'Brien in there, nor elsewhere in this house; there never has been.""Let them talk," cried the Doctor, beating his head with his closed fist. "In heaven's name, let them talk the thing into a nine days wonder. Let them think he's the devilanything rather than that they should know the truth. There may be a hundred explanations of this mystery, and yours may be the right one; I only know that I repudiate it. I cannot escape from the evidence of my own eyes; but there is something in me that denies the Clockwork man. He sticks in my gorge. Call me what you will; I am not to be shaken with phrases. The whole of man's past shrieks out against this monstrous incubus of the future. Do not ask me to offer my own explanation of the phenomenon. I have none. In vain I have stretched my brain to its bursting point in order to solve this problem. You, apparently, are ready to accept the Clockwork man as a foregone conclusion. Time alone will reveal which of us is nearer the truth."


      "Gawd," he gasped, "it's a blooming ghost."


      "How's the fair patient?" I hurried to ask as the three of us went.

      "Yes?""That's flattering to me. But I thought you liked the Countess."

      Now the lightning seems nearer. Hark, that was thunder; soft, but real. At last the air moves; there is a breeze, and the girls come out on the gallants' arms to drink it in. As they lift their brows and sigh their comfort the lightning grows brighter, the thunder comes more promptly and louder, and the maidens flinch and half scream, yet linger for one more draft of the blessed coolness. Suddenly an inverted tree of blinding light branches down the sky, and the thunder crashes in one's very ears; the couples recoil into a group at the door, the lightning again fills heaven and earth, it shows the bending trees far afield, and the thunders peal at each other as if here were all Vicksburg and Port Hudson, with Porter and Farragut going by. So for a space; then the wind drops to a zephyr, and though the sky still blazes and crashes, and flames and roars, the house purrs with content under the sweet strokings of the rain."I must get myself seen to," he mused, "because, of course, that accounts for everything; my lapse into this defunct order of things and my inability to move about freely in the usual, multiform manner. And it accounts for my absurd behaviour just now."


      "An adventure!" the Countess cried gaily. "I have been dodging a couple of policemen, or I should have been back before. Beware of the high road. Goodbye, Captain, and if ever you wish to dispose of your Mercedes, give me the first offer."

      "Dick, you answer that," exclaimed Harry, reining in half wheeled; "but keep him on his back, if you have to hold him down!" He spurred away to learn whether we had better stay or fly. I threw my rein to Camille and flew up the hall stairs.CHAPTER I. THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR

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      "Oh, wait," said Lilian, "I had to have it out with you. I had to talk of these things,[Pg 202] as though talking's any good! I couldn't let you just take me for granted. Don't you see? I suppose all this talk between us is nothing but an extension of the age-long process of mating. I'm just like the primitive woman running away from her man.""Dearest, it was not nonsense at all. The shadow of the light was all across my nightdress. I was so frightened that I could not call out because the Corner House is empty and it must have been a ghost. But that was not all."

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      In vain the Doctor tried to throw off his heavy reflections and assume the air of gaiety usual to him when drinking his coffee and thinking of Lilian. Such an oppression could hardly be ascribed to the malady of love. It was not Romeo's "heavy lightness, serious vanity." It was a deep perplexity, a grave foreboding that something had gone hideously wrong with him, something that he was unable to diagnose. It could not be that he was growing old. As a medical man he knew his age to an artery. And yet, in spite of his physical culture and rather deliberate chastity, he felt suddenly that he was not a fit companion for this young girl with her resilient mind. He had always been fastidious about morals, without being exactly moral, but there was something within him that he did not care to contemplate. It almost seemed as though the sins of the mind were more deadly than those of the flesh, for the latter expressed themselves in action and re-action, while the former remained in the mind, there to poison and corrupt the very source of all activity.

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      "Ah!"--Ferry guardedly pointed to the ground at the corner of the house nearest Charlotte's room; there were both the dogs, dim as phantoms and as silent, standing and peering not toward us but around to the wing side in a way to make one's blood stop. We drew deeper into the grove and made a short circuit that brought us in line with Charlotte's two windows, and there, at the farther one, with her back to us, sat Charlotte, looking toward Hazlehurst. The bloodthirsty beasts at the corner of the house were so intently waiting to spring upon something, somebody, between them and the nearer window, that we were secure from their notice. We had hardly more than become aware of these things when, in the line of planted trees, out of the depths of the one nearest the nearer window, sounded a note that brought Charlotte instantly to her feet; the same feeble, smothered cry she had heard the night she was wounded. She crossed to the front window and listened, first standing erect, and then stooping and leaning out. When we saw her do that we knew how little she cared for her life; Ferry beckoned me up from behind him; neither of us needed to say he feared the signal was from Oliver. "Watch here," he whispered, and keeping the deepest shade, started eagerly, with drawn revolver, toward the particular tree. I saw the dogs discover and recognize him and welcome his aid, yet I kept my closest watch on that tree's boughs and on Charlotte. She was wondering, I guessed, whether the call was from some messenger of Ferry, or was only a bird's cry. As if she decided it was the latter, she moved away, and had nearly re-crossed the room, when the same sad tremolo came searching the air again. Nevertheless she went on to the farther window and stood gazing out for the better part of a minute, while in my heart I besought her not to look behind. For Ferry and the dogs had vanished in shadow, and outside her nearer window, wavering now above and now below the sill, I could just descry a small pale object that reminded me of that missive Coralie Rothvelt had passed up to me outside the window-sill at old Lucius Oliver's house exactly a month before. From the upper depths of the nearest tree this small thing was being proffered on the end of a fishing-rod. Presently the rod must have tapped the sill, with such a start did she face about. Silently she ran, snatched the dumb messenger, and drew down the window-shade. A moment later the room glowed with a candle, while her shadow, falling upon the shade, revealed her scanning a letter, lifting her arms with emotion, and so passing out of the line of view.By this time the Doctor's condition of hysteria had given way to a sort of desperate recklessness. He had somehow to restore the Clockwork man to some semblance of passable humanity. He pressed stops and twisted hands[Pg 165] with an entire disregard for the occasional instructions bellowed at him by the unfortunate object of his random experiments. He felt that the very worst could scarcely surpass what had already taken place. And it was obvious that the Clockwork man had but the haziest notions about his own mechanism. Evidently he was intended to be adjusted by some other person. He was not, in that sense, autonomous.


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